Friday, December 4, 2009

When you have ‘nothing’ to do, do it on social media

A hacker attack briefly shut down Twitter yesterday. Millions of twitterers were forced to talk to each other the old fashioned way - through Facebook!

We all agree that social media is a wonderful invention of the 21st century which helps us to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances. If you don’t agree or you don’t have a profile on at least one social networking site, I would strongly recommend that you go back to the 20th century, where you belong. If Shakespeare was still around, he might have remarked 't
witterers never quill, and quillers never tweet!'

I am an avid social networking user. However, I have to confess that it has been a love-hate relationship, though mostly it has been love. Despite its obvious advantages and even if one doesn’t misuse it (i.e. where one doesn’t use it as a ‘chat and cheat’ tool), social networking is not without disadvantages. Few years back, when I met family and friends after a long time their complaint used to be that I didn’t write. Nowadays, the complaint seems to be that I didn’t write, I didn’t call, I didn’t fax, I didn’t email, I didn’t page, I didn’t text, I didn’t blog, I didn’t scrap, I didn’t tweet…….

I like staying in touch with friends. I would like to know about their whereabouts and updates. But do I really need to know that Sanjay is enjoying his ravioli, or that Sarah’s flight has again been delayed, or that Tina is feeling sleepy during her meeting? I don’t think I do. Nor do I like navigating the minefield of postings about picnics and parties, or worse, Farmville, Fortune Cookies and Quizes.

Secondly, there is the uneasy feeling about being
at the epicenter of ALL the friends and acquaintances of my ENTIRE life AT ONCE. They may no longer be the people I knew, and I, certainly, am not the person I was even two years back. I worry if I will be able to ‘effectively’ communicate through my updates without offending anybody or making them feel as if I am a stranger.

Imagine my situation where I have all of the following and more on my contacts - three of my old girl friends, my school mate who knows that I once cheated on my test, another school mate who knows the teachers and girls on whom I had crush, a college mate who knows that I was the one who wrote the love letter which was blamed on another college mate, a neighbor who saw me peep at the bedroom of the beautiful girl who lived across my house, a fellow intern who knows that I once cheated on a travel claim, a colleague whom I backstabbed during my previous job, etc. To add to the complexity, it also has my current friends who think I am decent guy, my current colleagues who think I am a good colleague, my current boss who thinks I am an okay employee, my (current?) wife who thinks I am a not-so-okay husband. Above all it has a certain set of people who look upto to me (such people do exist, atleast in my imagination).

And so, how do I communicate to ALL of them at the SAME time? I come up with one-liners and (not-so-)wise-cracks that is so impersonal that they will never know the ‘real’ me! I am getting accustomed to such impudent social behavior. Because I don’t want to land in this kind of situation. If what I write on my blogs and social networks can be used as evidence, my wife would divorce me, my employer would sack me, my neighbour would sue me and my friends would leave me. But thankfully there is no handwriting detection on the net as anybody can write in Arial 10 font!

The other mistake people do is being injudicious about the folks they add to their contacts and add anybody who invites them. They seem to have more school mates on their Facebook than they ever had in school! I just hope they are comfortable sharing their personal moments with these strangers. I am not. I add only people whom I have met or atleast know very well. Despite that, I have 200+ contacts. Can you imagine how many hours it would take to just do the “hello, how are you doing?” bit with everyone!

Thirdly, there’s the whole voyeurism issue. I always believed that if someone followed me, I should be worried. Now because of ‘tagging’ there are thousands of people, albeit friendly, who have access to places I have been and people I know. And worry about it, I cannot, because that is the cost of virtual existence.

The other unique problem that I have is that if I secretly meet somebody (why, because I am a married man, you see), the person immediately puts up an update with a photograph disclosing the meeting. Hence, I have stopped dating women with Facebook profiles! Also if I conduct a party and invite a few friends over, as per my estimation, the chance of it hitting the net the SAME day is 82.34%, for the entire majority who were NOT invited to see.

Above all, the biggest drawback with social networking is that it deprives a person of the much more valuable ‘real life experiences’. More often than not, people who are active on social networking sites, do not have many ‘real’ friends. Soon we will need to set up social networking rehab centers, like where Bill Zucker was taken. But one also have to admit that it is not a new demon in the house – television has had its share in making humans less social and sociable.

However, as I said I have more love than hate for social networking. I have found and interacted with people in a way that I never imagined possible. In the older days, you really had to DO something to be social - helping your friends, baby-sitting the neighbour’s child, giving a poor guy something to eat, and other terrible selfless things. Nowadays, you just have to tweet every few hours via your cellphone and you are done!

And I just love the way it works; instant karma at its very best. Don't you agree?

30 comments:

Devika said...

I agree Salil....cent percent :)

But, I only have theoretical knowledge of facebook, twitter, farmville....though I kind of live nearly 2/3 of my life virtually :)

wishes,
devika

Renu said...

Happy to see you after a long hiatus:)

everything has its pros and cons, so is this internet..sometimes I seriously think that is it any good sharing so much about ourselves to unknown people thru blogs.

Devika said...

Salil I had a doubt about Renu's comment....

The world's writers have left so much of themselves in their books for the world....Did they have such a doubt??

my wishes to you Renu
devika

hitchwriter said...

geez..

it does deprive us of real life moments.. for example i made no friends in real life in this new city i shifted in 2 years.. all friends are virtual !!!

i really need to quit this farmville though... :(

Gazal said...

Welcome back.

Old timers like me still prefer the real thing.However,Its a great way to connecta and is a new world out there,yet you always have the option of keeping away unlike real life where you have to work to keep and maintain relationships.
Its a new age malady.I guess we have to FACE the truth.When you can't beat it join it.

Gauri said...

aha welcome back salil :)finally there's another post. This one reminded me about what I read somewhere "When your active on the social web sphere it basically means ur social life in the real world pretty much sucks";)
Good to have you back ...and hopefully we'll see you around :)

Salil said...

@Devika:
Nice to see you back here.
Blogs are also an integral part of social media and you are guilty as charged. How do you think we became friends? ;)
I agree writers have shared about themselves in their books to strangers in the past. The difference if you ask me is that it was just a handful of them, but now it is almost everybody and on a continuous basis.

@Renu:
Happy to see you too and to know that I have not lost you as a reader.
Yes, there are pros and cons, hence, my love-hate relationship. The question on the table is which side weighs more.

@Hitch:
Nice to see you back.
Don't sweat too much. The worry these days is are there real friends out there who is not blogging, facebooking, etc.
You a Farmville user, eh? - I am glad I am not connected to you on FB! :-)

@Gazal:
When you can't beat it, join it. Didn't we try to rationalize all our actions saying that, such as bribing at govt offices, cutting lines, etc.
But I am glad you did, because that's why I am getting a collectible copy of 'My Experiments with Truth'. :-)

@Gauri:
Welcome back to you too.
As there is only 24 hours in a day, a person has a limited amount of time to maintain social life. So the person is forced to chose either virtual or real life, and one would definitely suffer over the other!
That, unfortunately, is the cost of adopting social media!

Devika said...

Oh yes....and am so happy to have you as a friend, Salil...I plead guilty ;)

Hope you will blog more often, Salil....and bring some good fun for us :)

wishes,
devika

shail said...

Very funny read and good to see you back.

"Above all, the biggest drawback with social networking is that it deprives a person of the much more valuable ‘real life experiences’. More often than not, people who are active on social networking sites, do not have many ‘real’ friends."

I disagree totally. Social networking has given me more friends and more valuable 'real life experience' than real life could ever have. And as for people who think those active on networking sites have no 'real friends' I simply ask, 'Oh yeah?? Says who??!!' :))))

And oh, I am an avid farmer at Farmville too like Hitch above. :) Are you going to throw me out of your FB list?? :P

ബോണ്‍സ് said...

Nice to see you back after a long time! I have made a resolution not to be on Facebook, Twitter. Of course, you know what happens with resolutions! Liked the cartoon very much!!

Govind said...

The good thing about Twitter or Facebook
is it makes me an angel the way I look
to every 'friend' in every corner every nook
hiding from them cleverly the fact that I am a crook.

Welcome back. The wait was worth it.

Mampi said...

Yes, right. But then you gotta bless gtalk too.
That is what connects brilliant people like me to you.

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Hi Salil... Good one! But less laughter this time! Guess the social media has stolen your sense of humor...

Salil said...

@Shail:
I said ‘more often than not’ not ‘always’.
Also social media has given you ‘virtual’ friends and ‘virtual life experience'. Not sure how much more valuable it is than real life, but don’t want to get into that debate.
But let us look at the bright side, how else would you have had my friendship, the best thing that has ever happened to you? ;)
Also I would like a tour of your Farmville farm while in TVM.

@Bones:
Would never recommend non-usage of social media. Recommend that you use it sparingly and not at too much cost.
It can also save you time at the Pearly gates, when St Peter asks, “What have you done in your life, son?” You can always reply, “Didn’t you read my tweets, updates and blogs?”
And regarding resolutions, I hope you know my view on them - http://www.salilravindran.com/2009/02/its-about-that-time-of-year.html

@Govind, the self-admitted crook:
As I said in my blog, if people could use what one writes on social networks against people, we would have more than half the population in jail by now.
But very disappointing comment PRG, where is the verse?

@Mampi:
Totally agree, cannot imagine what I would have done without gtalk. It would be like not knowing what actually happened in 1857 ;)

@Shri RS:
Thanks buddy. Yes, social media takes my energy, sweat, blood and at times, my humour too. Will come back with more humour.

Aditya said...

The man is back! A hard hitting post on social networking in your unique hilarious style.

Been waiting for your posts for a long time. In fact I read your every single post but just lazy to comment on them. May be I did, I don't remember! Write more regularly sir, I am very greedy :)

Good one :)

ki said...

ew farmville :|

Govind said...

Dear Mr. Hotshot Accountant,What do you mean where is the verse? I thought book, look, nook and crook all rhymed perfectly.Don't mess with me brother,you will regret it.
BTW when are you coming to India?

radha said...

Glad to see you back. I am not on any social networking site ( my generation is not very active there, and would be offended if my kids did not want to add me as a friend, which I suspect would happen).

bigbracket said...

You are very true. Social networking sites are very helpful these days. I prefer facebook over Orkut.
Most of the people from India still feels quite uncomfortable switching from orkut to facebook. However facebook UI is quite soothing and user friendly. Isn't?

shail said...

Yeah, you are right. How else would I have had your friendship?? :))) By the way, I didn't mean 'virtual' experience. I got many 'real' life experience courtesy Social Media. I doubt that someone like me who kept the pots and pans company would ever have met so many people for 'real' or even be asked for a tour of Farmville otherwise! ;)

P.S. Will this second comment count in your yearly appraisal when your blogging anniversary comes?? ;)

writerzblock said...

Finally, a post from you. I second Hitchy, on having more virtual friends than real ones. Though, it gets quite overwhelming at times, and sometimes, it also feels like living in a dream world. Still, make merry while WWW shines. Enjoyed the post, and will wait for the next one!

Anonymous said...

Dear Author www.salilravindran.com !
I confirm. I agree with told all above. Let's discuss this question.

Salil said...

@Aditya:
Nice to see your back too, sorry, to see you back too..
On laziness, just remembered this quote, ‘ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy’

@Ki:
Welcome to this space. Hope you like it here.
Yes, eww Farmville..

@Govind:
Sorry, read the comment on my handheld and did not catch it.
Like me, Mark Twain also appreciates your efforts when he said, ‘anybody can write the first line of a poem, but is a very difficult task to make the second line rhyme with the first’

@Radha:
Nice to have you back.
And I hope you know that you don’t belong to this century ;)

@Bigbracket:
Welcome to this space. Hope you like it here.
I think whenever a new site comes with a different UI, people will switch enmasse!

@Shail:
I agree in your case. But a lot of people who cite the excuse of finding more friends on social media don’t bother to keep in touch with their old ‘real’ friends. Do they really need these ‘virtual’ friends then?
No, second comments don’t count! :-)

@Writerzblock:
Thank you for coming back.
Yes, it is more like a fantasy world. And I guess there is no resisting or going back. Absolutely, make hay while the www shines.

@Anon:
Dear commentor, sure we can discuss. But how?

V Rakesh said...

So much for virtual networks! I've been away from fellow bloggers and their blogs for a long time now and truly missed it. Hope you are doing good. Wishing you and folks a merry Christmas and a very happy new year!

Devika said...

Wish You and family a Very Happy New Year, Salil :)

time for a new post :)

wishes,
devika

Anonymous said...

Интересно написано....но многое остается непонятнымb

Fire Dragon said...

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Việc bổ sung dinh dưỡng cho mẹ bầu ở bất cứ giai đoạn nào cũng vô cùng quan trọng vì vậy cho dù thời tiết có nắng nóng thì chị em cũng cần ăn uống đầy đủ các thực phẩm để thai nhi có đủ chất phát triển.
Mùa hè, việc ăn uống của mẹ bầu có thể sẽ khó khăn hơn. bà bầu sắp sinh cần chuẩn bị những gìlà điều mà ai cũng muốn hỏi và muốn biết nhất là những ông chồng sẽ rất quan tâm đến vấn đề này bởi họ muốn trở thành anh hùng trong lòng các bà vợ Thay vì việc cố gắng "nhồi nhét" thêm một múi cam hay một quả nho, mẹ có thể say sinh tố hoặc uống các loại nước ép hoa quả, nhận biết dấu hiệu sắp sinh của bà bầuvậy đấy bạn muốn biết thêm về dấu hiệu cho việc này nếu vậy hãy click vào và tìm hiểu ngay đi nào để tạo cho mình một kiến thức sâu rộng rau xanh... sẽ giúp cung cấp đầy đủ vitamin và dưỡng chất cần thiết cho thai kỳ.

Anh Kim said...

Phóng viên Thông tấn xã Việt Nam có cuộc trao đổi với ông Phạm Thanh Tùng, Vụ trưởng Vụ Hợp tác Quốc tế (Bộ Giao thông Vận tải) xung quanh những nội dung làm việc tại cuộc họp về chuyển hàng ra Hà Nội.

Là thành viên trong đoàn công tác của Bộ Giao thông Vận tải Việt Nam sang làm việc với Bộ Giao thông Vận tải van chuyen hang di Yen Bai, ông có thể chia sẻ những nội dung chính mà hai bên đã trao đổi trong vấn đề hợp tác về giao thông vận tải?

Ông Phạm Thanh Tùng: Trong chuyến đi tháp tùng Thủ tướng Nguyễn Tấn Dũng thăm và làm việc tại chuyển hàng đến Vũng Tàu vừa qua, đoàn đại biểu Bộ Giao thông Vận tải Việt Nam do Thứ trưởng Nguyễn Nhật dẫn đầu đã có buổi làm việc với Bộ trưởng Bộ Giao thông Vận tải chuyển hàng về HCM để tiếp tục triển khai các nội dung mà trước đó Bộ trưởng Bộ Giao thông Thái Lan đã làm việc song phương với Bộ trưởng Bộ Giao thông Vận tải Đinh La Thăng hồi tháng Năm vừa qua chuyen hang den Thanh Hoa.

Cảm ơn bạn nhiều nhé.

Vu Huyen said...

Mình cũng đồng tình với suy nghĩ này, cảm ơn bạn đã chia sẽ.

Bạn đang làm bên lĩnh vực gì, mình có thể hợp tác chứ?

Bên mình chuyên về lĩnh vực dịch vụ vận chuyển giá rẻ, cung cấp dịch vụ gui hang di Ha Noi, gửi hàng nhanh đi Quảng Ninh, xe gửi hàng ra Bắc Giang, gui hang nhanh ra Lang Son, xe gửi hàng đi Thái Nguyên, gui hang di Bac Can, gửi hàng ra Cao Bằng, gui hang ra Tuyen Quang.

Nếu bên bạn chuyên về lĩnh vực thang máy gia đình, thang máy tải kháchgia thang may benh vien thì bên mình sẽ chiết khấu tốt cho bạn nhé.